Welcome to my spot on the MAYHEM blog tour!
Mayhem by Estelle Laure
Releases: July 14, 2020
The Lost Boys meets Wilder Girls in this supernatural feminist YA novel.
Mayhem by Estelle Laure was, overall, a nice read that was reminiscent of watching a movie or reading a book from the 80s. The nostalgia was set up nicely, not by throwing things like Back to the Future in readers' faces, but by being ingrained into the atmosphere, the setting itself.
Before we get too into it, here's a short summary:
Mayhem follows a girl of the same name as she and her mother move the town of Santa Maria, California, the hometown their family has called home for many, many years. Mayhem hopes for a better life now that she and her mother have escaped her abusive stepfather. She expects to lay on the beach and do all the teenage things she never was able to experience under the brutal gaze of her stepfather. What Mayhem doesn't expect is to be pulled into a family secret that will make her one of Santa Maria's saviors. But, there's a serial killer known as the Sand Snatcher on the loose, and it's up to Mayhem and her family to put an end to his wicked ways.
Many people have connected it to The Lost Boys, but having never watched that cult classic, I feel the comparison it pulled from me was to Practical Magic. Well, if the witches in the movie killed people for a living. A lot of the feelings I get while watching Practical Magic, I also got while reading this. But, I must admit, Mayhem unfortunately lacks that extra something that makes Practical Magic the film that it is.
Laure does a great job with characterization. I really enjoyed reading through Mayhem's eyes, and thought that how her character dealt with the feelings of right and wrong were authentic and real. The author also does a tasteful job of tackling the difficult topics of abuse and assault, which is a tricky thing to do. She approaches it in an honest and real way, not letting it define the narrative.
I think the magic system with the water is really interesting and, pun not intended, refreshing. Although I wish it would have been explained more, I also like the mystery surrounding it. Laure does an interesting thing by including pages of diaries from Mayhem's ancestors to give readers multiple perspectives in a unique way.
While Laura does great with getting readers in this dreamlike, stuck-in-the-80s state, parts of the story fall apart at the edges. The relationship Mayhem has with Jason feels like it truly comes from nowhere and escalates very quickly. Scenes that should be climactic fall short and are over nearly as quickly as they start. And the ending, well, just kind of ends. As someone who loves love and endings that are tied up in a nice bow, even if they upset me, this book fell short of those expectations.
I would have thought the scene with the Sand Snatcher and the climax at the very end of the novel would have been stretched out, and I feel like those storyline definitely could have been played out more.
I appreciate this book for what it is and what it was trying to be. I like the message of staying strong and having control for the first time in your life, female friendships, and the complications of family. Overall, I definitely think it's worth reading!
Please note: there are content warnings, which you can read about here and here.
o Twitter: @starlaure
o Instagram: @estellelaurebooks
Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults,
and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.